German police lost track of synagogue shooter for an hour, lawmakers say

It was two officers in a small town who reportedly eventually arrested the gunman, not the SWAT teams that were hunting him.

By AP and World Israel News Staff 

German lawmakers say police lost track for an hour of a suspected far-right extremist who killed two people after a failed attack on a synagogue in Halle last Wednesday, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Germany’s dpa news agency quoted regional lawmakers in Saxony-Anhalt state as saying on Monday that it was two officers in a small town who eventually arrested the gunman, not the SWAT teams that were hunting him.

The suspect in the attempted attack on the synagogue had around four kilograms (nearly nine pounds) of explosives in his car and wanted to carry out a massacre, Germany’s top prosecutor said.

German security services have come under scrutiny over their response to the shooting Wednesday in Halle, a city in eastern Germany, after Jewish community leaders said requests for police protection were ignored.

The 27-year-old German suspect, identified by prosecutors as Stephan Balliet, was arrested in Zeitz, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Halle.

Authorities say he has admitted carrying out the shooting and had anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist motives.

The identities of the two victims were revealed by German media as Jana Lange, 40, and Kevin S., 20.

Unable to enter the building and penetrate its heavy wooden doors, Balliet instead allegedly shot Lange on the street as she passed by.

Balliet then drove away. When he passed a kebab shop, he decided to make that the target, entering and shooting Kevin S.

It doesn’t appear that either of his victims was Jewish.

More than six thousand people participated in a march through the German capital city of Berlin on Sunday to protest against rising anti-Semitism in the country.